And now for the exciting second installment of the vegetarian fiesta. For the side dishes, I made zucchini ribbons with tarragon, and corn salad with vinaigrette.
While I don't quite adore zucchini, it is overflowing at the markets and surprisingly sweet and flavorful. Plus I've always wanted to make zucchini ribbons, and this was my golden moment. Dun dunna nah!! (verbal translation of trumpet blaring)
You will need:
- 2 pounds zucchini
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided (I used olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste (1 tsp is piddly, I added more)
- Requisite salt n pepa
Serves about 6 as a side.
Chop your tarragon. If you don't like tarragon, use any other herb you like, who cares.
Slice your zucchini using a madoline on the thinnest setting, about 1/8". I mentioned the mandoline I have in this post.
Them are sticky suckers.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Toss in half of zucchini (only HALF) because it will not fit and you won't be able to cook them evenly. Turn gently and frequently with tongs until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining half of zucchini.
Toss with lemon juice to taste. Don't toss in the tarragon until right before serving--if put in too early, the tarragon will turn black. If you're using a hardier herb, like parsley or thyme, you can probably toss it in earlier (and actually for something like thyme you may want to toss it in while you're cooking the zucchini).
I'd have a pic of the finished product for you but the guests were there and I could only take so many pictures without looking like a bat.
The corn salad is just a few main ingredients.
- 5 ears of corn, shucked (I used 4, mainly because I didn't want to cut the kernels off of 5 ears)
- 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion) (I used shallots, and 1/2 cup turned out to be WAY too strong, and I hand-picked most of the suckers out of the salad, giving myself repetitive strain injury. I'm not kidding.)
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
Serves about 6 as a side.
First, make the "vinaigrette". The original recipe just says to prep the corn and mix the dressing ingredients in later, but I wanted to soften the bite of the shallots and let them sit for about 30 minutes in a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 cider vinegar, with pinches of salt and sugar.
I then drained the shallots, and mixed it with the other dressing ingredients, cutting back a little on the cider vinegar since the shallots had already soaked in vinegar.
For the corn, bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the corn into the pot and cook briefly, about 3 minutes. Remove to bowl filled with ice water to stop cooking.
Now it's time to remove the kernels from the cob, a process which I find simultaneously fascinating and a pain in the ass. The first few times I tried this, kernels were flying every which way. This happens more so when you are working with raw corn, so I appreciated that in this recipe the corn was gently cooked first.
My set-up is to take the biggest bowl I have, and then take a small bowl and put it upside down into the center of the large bowl, like dees:
I use the large bowl because it's big enough to catch the falling kernels. But I use the small bowl to achieve some height, since it's hard to reach with my knife all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Oh it makes sense once as you do it. Although you don't have to, you can just do this in a big bowl, on a plate, on your cutting board, whatever.
Prop your ear of corn on the small bowl.
Carefully take your knife and run it down the side of the ear, essentially shaving off the kernels. I couldn't take a picture of this because I don't have three hands, but I'm sure you can find pics/video on the internet. Like this one:
If you feel like it, then take the back of your knife and run it along the cob to get out the rest of the milky corn goodness.
This is a trick. I didn't grow a third hand--the knife is just resting on the rim of the bowl. For shaving off the kernels in the first phase, the blade will be flipped the other way, BUT NOT AT THIS ANGLE unless you want to slice through the cob and anything behind it, like your wrist. The blade should point down towards the bottom of the bowl, like in that pic I showed you.
Toss the kernels with the vinaigrette. Painstakingly remove, one by one, bits of shallot if you've determined, far too late, that they are overpowering.
I forgot to take magazine-worthy pics for you, but here are the zucchini and corn alongside the tomato and goat cheese tart.